Is it possible to get active with cerebral palsy? With the help of these charities: yes!
Staying as active as possible is one way in which we can all achieve more in life and I have recently had the very great pleasure of speaking with representatives of a number of charities at the forefront of initiatives that ensure people affected by cerebral palsy have the best opportunities to stay active.
Whizz-Kidz provides differently-abled children and young people with vital mobility equipment, opportunities to meet and have fun, and training to help them gain skills and look forward to a brighter future. Many of the young people Whizz-Kidz works with and supports have cerebral palsy.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to speak with Ruth Owen OBE, Chief Executive of Whizz-Kidz. Under Ruth’s leadership, Whizz-Kidz has become the biggest provider of powered and light weight manual wheelchairs for children outside the NHS! As a wheelchair user herself, Ruth has a particular insight into thriving in a world largely designed for people who get around on two feet and I couldn’t help but be inspired by her.
Whizz-Kidz has a Kidz Board, made up of young wheelchair users who each represent a different area of the UK. The Kidz Board ensures that the young people’s views are at the heart of decisions made by the charity. Georgia is 19 years old and represents the South East on the Kidz Board. She has spoken at the House of Commons and appeared on BBC’s Woman’s Hour. When asked how Whizz-Kidz has helped her to reach her potential she replied:
“Whizz-Kidz has helped me in many ways, helping me grow my confidence and believe in myself. I’ve also learnt invaluable skills through Whizz-Kidz such as public speaking, and I’ve had some great opportunities and experiences that I’m very grateful for and I’ll never forget.”
The more I discover about Whizz-Kidz, the more blown away I am at the impact that this charity is having on the lives of children affected by mobility issues such as cerebral palsy. In 2018 alone, they provided over 1092 children and young people with vital mobility equipment – that’s around 21 people a week who are being supported to reach their potential!
Riding for the Disabled Association
One charity particularly close to my heart is the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), who this week are celebrating their 50th anniversary. I have been around horses for almost as long as I can remember and recognise their amazing ability to make people feel calm and content. Riding horses also provides a huge sense of freedom; particularly when our own bodies do not work quite as well as we would like them to.
Caroline Ward joined RDA in 2009 to help promote the charity’s 40th anniversary. A decade later, I asked Caroline what makes RDA special and how it helps differently-abled people stay active:
“Now in its 50th year, RDA delivers therapy, achievement and fun to children and adults with disabilities through riding, carriage driving and other horse activities. RDA’s activities have been shown to deliver physical benefits - like improved coordination, muscle strength and balance - as well as other benefits including building confidence, communication and overall wellbeing”.
I spent a happy summer volunteering with RDA and it was a true joy to see the transformation in people’s faces as they settled down in the saddle and interacted with their trusted equine friends.
Cerebral Palsy Sport
Cerebral Palsy Sport is a charity at the forefront of supporting children and young people with cerebral palsy to stay active. Their pretty fabulous vision is “to support people with cerebral palsy to reach their life potential through sport and active recreation”.
As I write this, CP Sport will be delivering a CP Football Kick Start session with Summertown Stars AFC and Oxfordshire FA. This is open to anyone with Cerebral Palsy aged five or over who would like to play football.
In fact, it is a busy weekend for CP Sport who has also organised a ‘Go Tri’ triathlon event in Cheshire. The triathlon is specifically for anyone who has cerebral palsy or a limb impairment. I wish everyone taking part the best of luck!
The final charity that I want to feature today is WheelPower. Each year, WheelPower supports over 62,000 differently-abled people to participate in sport and activities across the country!
The range of activities covered by WheelPower is mind boggling. From Angling to Ice Sledge Hockey; Powerchair Football to Karate; Wheelchair Dance to Wheelchair Fencing; there is something for everybody.
Why is staying active important? WheelPower states:
“We have seen how playing sport can enrich lives, offering tremendous physical and psychological benefits, whatever your age or ability”.
I feel really blessed to work with children and young people living with cerebral palsy; representing those who have been affected by cerebral palsy as a result of substandard care, normally at the time of their birth.
It is a joy to see how our clients’ lives can be transformed by the provision of funds to enable them to stay as active as possible each and every day. The funds can be used to pay for the latest mobility equipment and to access top of the range sporting facilities.
Just like Whizz-Kidz; Riding for the Disabled Association; Cerebral Palsy Sport; and WheelPower, enabling people affected by cerebral palsy to reach their full potential is at the heart of what we do.